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Richmond resettlement agencies and partners hold second volunteer summit

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Sharon Singer, Volunteer Coordinator, IRC in Richmond; Kate Ayers, Director, ReEstablish Richmond; Emila Stambol, Education Specialist, CCC; Najibullah Naseri, Volunteer Coordinator, CCC; and Claudia Guerrero Barrera, Director of Programs, Sacred Heart Center welcome attendees.

Photo: Laura Jones/ReEstablish Richmond

On Saturday, February 1st, 100 community ambassadors attended the second Refugee and Immigrant Volunteer Summit. The event was co-hosted by ReEstablish Richmond, the International Rescue Committee, Commonwealth Catholic Charities, and Sacred Heart Center. Attendees are all current volunteers with the host organizations. The Baptist General Association of Virginia once again generously provided the gathering space and extensive event support.

The International Rescue Committee’s Associate Director for Community Mobilization and Engagement, Kristen Aster, was the first keynote speaker. Aster’s presentation provided facts and figures to aid efforts in engaging as community ambassadors for our newest neighbors and our work with them.

Attendees then chose from a vast array of informative breakout sessions:

  • Using Empathy in Teaching ELL (English Language Learners)
  • Teaching Citizenship Tips and Tricks
  • Cultural Awareness, Boundaries, and Values
  • Navigating Social Services
  • Tips and Tricks for Teaching and Tutoring ELL
  • Navigating the Tax System
  • Navigating Public Schools
  • Using Mobile Technology to Enhance the Refugee and Volunteer Engagement Experience
  • The 2020 Census
Antoinette Murakatete, Jalal Hashimi, and Dadi Neopaney sit on the panel of refugee leaders during the roundtable discussion. Photo: Kate Ayers/ReEstablish Richmond

Additional roundtables with refugee and immigrant leaders on their backgrounds, experiences, journeys, barriers, and resilience were well-attended and offered enriching discussions.

IRC Immigration Services Manager, Diane Sheehey, led a breakout session on navigating the immigration legal process for newcomers that inspired countless deep-dive questions which were helpful to all attendees.

Elissa Milanowski, MSW, Senior Program Consultant at the Office of Newcomer Services made a presentation to the entire group during lunch, entitled "The Refugee Journey Before Richmond". She provided incredible insight into the kinds of journeys that newcomers to Richmond encounter before arriving in the U.S.

Follow IRC in Richmond on Facebook (@IRCRichmond) to be among the first to receive details of next year’s Refugee and Immigrant Volunteer Summit. Interested in volunteering with the IRC in Richmond? Learn more about the process of becoming a volunteer and the current roles available.